Cubs breathe sigh of relief as Javy Baez avoids 10-day injured list

Baez went through agility drills, took ground balls and took batting practice before the game Wednesday against the Braves.

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The Cubs expect Javy Baez to be back in the starting lineup Thursday.

The Cubs expect Javy Baez to be back in the starting lineup Thursday.

Paul Beaty/AP

ATLANTA — After a few days of wondering whether shortstop Javy Baez (strained hamstring) would have to go on the 10-day injured list, the Cubs got some good news Wednesday.

Baez did around 40 minutes of on-field agility work several hours before the Cubs’ game against the Braves in front of a contingent that included head trainer PJ Mainville and manager David Ross. The plan is for Baez, who was available off the bench, to be back in the starting lineup for the series finale Thursday.

‘‘Really good [feedback],’’ Ross said before the game. ‘‘He was moving well. We’ll put him through the full [pregame Wednesday]. He’ll take ground balls and hit, move around and see how he feels [Thursday]. All signs are good as long as he’s healthy. . . . If everything goes well and he’s not sore [Thursday], we’ll put him in there.’’

Rizzo in leadoff spot

First baseman Anthony Rizzo batting leadoff always has provided fans with some enjoyment, but it usually gives the Cubs a spark offensively, too.

With Ross looking to shake things up while regular leadoff man Ian Happ gets himself on track, Rizzo said he doesn’t mind taking over the role for a game or two.

‘‘Just want to win ballgames,’’ Rizzo said before going 1-for-4 in the Cubs’ 10-0 loss. ‘‘That’s it. Hitting first, second, third or fourth. Obviously, I like hitting third and fourth the most. But if [Ross] calls on me to be hitting first today, he calls on me to be hitting first today. I’ll be ready.

‘‘[Ross] mentioned it to me and just asked how I felt about it. I said, ‘Yeah, I’m all for it.’ Whatever helps, whatever it takes. And hopefully it’s one of these things where it jump-starts me and jump-starts our team.’’

You can’t blame Ross for going back to one of the things predecessor Joe Maddon began a few seasons ago. In 60 games hitting leadoff, Rizzo has a .327/.420/.585 slash line with 14 home runs and a 162 weighted runs created plus.

‘‘I think with [Happ] out and scuffling a little bit, just trying to mix some things up at the top,’’ Ross said. ‘‘[Rizzo] has done a good job up there in the past to jump-start the offense a little bit.’’

Rizzo did more than bat leadoff, too. With the game out of hand in the seventh, he came on to pitch and got two outs, including a strikeout of reigning National League MVP Freddie Freeman. He and infielders Matt Duffy and Eric Sogard combined to pitch two scoreless innings.

Romine gets bad news with MRI

Backup catcher Austin Romine will miss some time with a severe sprain of his left wrist. He was put on the 10-day IL on Monday, and Ross said an MRI exam revealed a significant sprain.

The Cubs don’t have a timetable on Romine, and it will be several weeks before he can return to baseball activities.

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